BENTON -- Over $225,000 in Homeland Security interoperable communications grants were awarded to Scott County agencies to help them meet requirements by the Federal Communications Commission.
County Developer Joel Evans reported on the grant awards to Scott County commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday.
Gov. Matt Blunt announced in a recent press release that $5.35 million would be awarded to 152 jurisdictions within the state to promote interoperable communications as new FCC regulations have been established to improve communications between emergency responders across the country.
The deadline for compliance is 2013.
The grants will fund the replacement of wide-band mobile and portable radios, most of which have 16 channels or less, with digital narrow-band radios with a minimum of 48 channels.
Additionally, each of these new radios will include pre-established channels allowing multi-jurisdictional and interdisciplinary communication regardless of where the responders may be called.
"They are 100-percent grants so it's not going to cost the county a penny," Evans said.
Just over $225,000 of Missouri's $5.35 million was awarded to seven applicants in Scott County.
The total for grants awarded around the state average out to about $47,000 per county, according to Evans. "We received almost five times that," he said.
Evans said he wrote two of the grants, one for the sheriff and the other for the Scott County Rural Fire Protection District, while the other five applications were written by the agencies themselves.
The application for the Scott County Sheriff's Department will replace aging and soon to be non-compliant mobile and portable radios with state-of-the-
art digital narrow-band radios totaling over $69,000.
The Scott County Rural Fire Protection District's grant will fund purchases totaling over $31,000.
Other Scott County agencies making successful applications were Sikeston, Chaffee, Kelso, Scott City, and the NBC Fire Protection District.
The new radios will ensure the ability to communicate effectively when working with more than one agency.
In rural area, multi-agency response is the norm, not the exception, according to Evans.
Without interoperability communication, the Incident Command System is crippled, the ability to respond to the dynamics of a disaster is slowed, and lives and property are put at increased risk, officials said.
Evans said he is not sure when the county will receive the money.
In other business Tuesday:
* Evans said he has received three responses -- from St. Ambrose, St. Denis and Kelso C-7 -- to his request for schools in the county to make their facilities available for use as emergency shelters or communication/command centers during emergencies.
"A strong sense of community exists within the smaller schools of the county," Evans said. "The school faculty, staff and administration have a vested interest in their communities. In many cases the school is an inseparable part of the community's identity. They are great examples of the spirit of the county where a neighbor helps a neighbor."
County Clerk Rita Milam said larger schools are probably focused on graduations at the moment.
* The custom county line border markers intended for the north and south ends of the county on Interstate 55 have still not been put into place by the Missouri Department of Transportation, according to Evans.
"And it's been almost a year since we've paid for those signs," he said.
The northern sign was never placed.
"The one that was positioned on the south end of the county was poorly positioned," Evans said. "It's on an offramp of I-55 onto I-57, so it actually welcomes you into Scott County as you enter Mississippi County."
Evans said MoDOT advised they plan to put them up this spring.
* Evans presented commissioners with a copy of the amended bylaws for the Scott County Communication Center board.
The board approved the amended bylaws May 4.
The amendment provided for two additional board members which are to be representatives of the various emergency services agencies in the county.
County officials will also be advertising for resumes for the communication center's top position.
"Roger Manwaring has resigned as communications center supervisor effective May 31," Commissioner Jamie Burger said.